Bill Beattie once said, “The aim of education should be to teach us how to think rather than what to think – rather to improve our minds, so as to enable us to think for ourselves, than to load the memory with thoughts of other men.” All too often, however, individual thoughts are crushed by the powerful weight of conformity. In the film Dead Poets Society, conformity exercises it’s influence and the results prove disastrous for some. For others, the effect of conformity compels them towards individual strength and the discovery of one’s true self.
Modern education is one of the largest “offenders” when it comes to conformity, and that point is illustrated repeatedly in the film Dead Poets Society. At Wellton, students of all walks of life are expected to learn the same lessons the same ways. They are expected to memorize the important facts and regurgitate the same facts during exams. Latin class involves recitation, while chemistry involves memorization, and as long as the students can deliver what they have been told, they are successful in life.
The new English teacher, Mr. Keating, challenges his students to think for themselves and to resist conformity. He most memorably illustrates how easily conformity affects people during his lesson involving a stroll in the courtyard. He instructs three of his pupils to walk around the courtyard. The three boys march in unison, and the remainder of the pupils begin to clap in time with the marching. He asks why the boys are clapping, and they do not know. Perhaps they were clapping because everyone else was clapping, or perhaps they were just having a good time. However, it cannot be disputed that the group conformed without thinking.
All too often, the words of the textbook are considered undisputed fact. All chemistry textbooks will list the elements with the same symbols and all Latin textbooks will list...